Must you speak in tongues to have the Holy Spirit?


Is it true, as most Pentecostals say, that if you do not speak in tongues, you do not have the Holy Spirit?


"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: ... There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. ... And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" (I Corinthians 12:1, 4-11, 28-30).

In teaching the Corinthians about the nature of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit, Paul pointed out that every Christian did not have all the gifts. Who received which gift was a decision made by the Spirit based on how the gift would benefit the church. In I Corinthians 12, Paul further argued that it was silly to expect a group to all exhibit the same talents or gifts. It would be the same as saying the human body ought to all be one organ, such as an eye or ear (see I Corinthians 12:12-26). Unfortunately, we tend to see certain gifts as being "better" than other gifts."For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:3-8).

The simple answer is that during the first century a person who had the gift of healing might not have the gift of tongues or prophecy. While miracles occurred during the first century, all Christians were not workers of miracles. A clear example of this occurred in Acts 8. "Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city" (Acts 8:5-8). The miracles done by Philip attracted a large crowd, giving Philip an opportunity to bring the gospel message to the assembly. The message (not the miracles) had its effect on those gathered. "But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized" (Acts 8:12). Did these people have the Holy Spirit? The answer would have to be "yes" because Peter promised, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:38-39).

As we continue reading, we find out that though Philip had the gifts of the Spirit and that those he taught were baptized, yet Philip was not able to pass on the gifts to these believers. "Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8:14-17). This causes a momentary quandary. The gift of the Holy Spirit is promised to all who are baptized, but here are people who were baptized and yet did not receive the gifts of the Spirit. With a moments reflection, the answer is plain. There are multiple gifts from the Spirit and not all the gifts are miraculous. Recall that Paul mentioned in Romans 12 gifts of ministering, teaching, exhortation, and giving. These are gifts from God, but they are not miraculous gifts. Then, too, we must remember that Paul explained that everyone did not receive the same gifts from the Spirit. Yet, at the same time, Peter said there is a gift (singular) that every Christian receives upon baptism. What gift is it? It cannot be the gift of tongues because Paul argued that everyone did not have it. Nor could it be any of the other miraculous gifts, for the same reason. Nor could it be the non-miraculous gifts Paul mentioned in Romans 12. Instead, consider these words of Paul, "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:13-14). Here is another reference to the promise of the Holy Spirit to those who are saved. What is promised? What is given to the believer? A guarantee of our inheritance. This is a gift promised to all of God's children. Hence, all Christians have a gift of the Holy Spirit. They are sealed with the Spirit as a guarantee of future salvation in heaven. Yet every Christian, having the Spirit's seal, did not manifest the gift of speaking in tongues.

There is another problem that Pentecostals refuse to see in their insistence that all Christians should speak in tongues as a demonstration of having the Holy Spirit: Paul bluntly stated that tongue-speaking was not permanent. One day the gift of speaking in tongues would be withdrawn. "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away" (I Corinthians 13:8-10). Yet at the same time, the gift promised by Peter was for all Christians -- as many as are called. The gift Peter was referring to was a permanent gift. The gift of tongues was a temporary gift. Hence, once more we come to the conclusion that a Christian does not need to speak in tongues to have the Holy Spirit.

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